It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over atTeach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.
Last Week’s Books:
Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle is a novel in verse that chronicles young Tony’s move to live with his uncle after his mother is arrested for, among other things, dogfighting and cruelty to animals (pitbulls, in particular). At his uncle’s remote Sierra, Nevada cabin, Tony meets a completely different type of dog. Gabe is a search-and-rescue dog who works to found lost hikers, campers, etc. As Tony becomes more involved in learning about search-and-rescue, he is also able to come to terms with how he feels about his mother. This book is filled with great voice–not only Tony’s, but Gabe’s as well, as many of the chapters are “told” by him. This book is sure to generate a lot of interest and discussion among students.
I really wanted to like I Funny by James Patterson (and Chris Grabenstein). It’s the story of middle schooler Jamie Grimm, who wants to become a stand-up comedian. Jamie is able to maintain his jokey persona, even though he is living in a new town with distant relatives who all but ignore him–and he’s in a wheelchair, too. Written in a Diary-of-a-Wimpy-Kid format and tone, the book moves along quickly as Jamie finds out about, participates in, and wins a comedy contest for kids. The thing is, I just didn’t think it was that funny, and it is filled with references to famous comedians with whom I’m not sure kids will be familiar. Still, it gets checked out of my libraries a fair amount, so students must be liking it. And I do like the take-away that Jamie wants to be treated like everyone else, even if it’s negatively, rather than be treated differently because of his wheelchair.
May B. is a historical fiction novel in verse that takes place on a Kansas homestead in the late 19th century. Twelve-year-old May, who struggles in school because of what we now know as dyslexia, is sent by her family to work for a young couple just setting up their new home. Mrs. Oblinger is not much older than May and is miserable, missing her family and not making much of an effort to become the woman of the house. One late September day she runs away, and her husband leaves to bring her back. Neither returns. May is at first bewildered, but soon becomes determined to make it on her own until her father returns for her at Christmas. May is so strong–not only in caring for herself but also in working tirelessly at her reading. Novels in verse do not always successfully hit the right note, but this one does, especially in May’s darkest days when she fears she will not survive the winter.
Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood is a realistic fiction novel about the title character. Homeschooled all her life up until now, Prairie is a delightful girl who has enjoyed the company of her grandmother/teacher, her parents, and herself. A move to another state sends her life into an uproar, especially when her granny decides to return home and Prairie must attend school. At first school is terrible and Prairie would do almost anything to get to stay home and take care of her chickens, and then she meets Ivy. The two quickly become inseparable, but the road is sometimes rocky, especially because of Ivy’s life at home. There is great voice in this book, and Prairie learns a lot about being a best friend. The end of the book did seem to go a little too smoothly–Ivy’s mother gets married and plans to move, and Prairie’s family convinces her to let Ivy live with them until the end of the school year (but the reader knows it will probably be for much longer). Even though Ivy’s adjustment is gradual and her emotions are mixed, I wonder if her mother would have been that easy to convince. In all, though, this is a strong middle grade title.
Currently Reading/Listening To:
I am listening to the large-cast audiobook of World War Z, and it is an excellent production so far.